The reason specialist warns they wouldn’t prescribe Ireland’s first medical cannabis products

30th September 2021

While campaigners and advocates are celebrating that patients will be able to get access to Ireland’s first medical cannabis products on the health services from October, a specialist announced they wouldn’t prescribe the life-changing medicine.

According to the Irish Times, consultant paediatric neurologist Professor Bryan Lynch told the Committee on Health (Oireachtas) yesterday that clinicians are opposing to prescribe CannEpil, a phytocannabinoid-derived Investigational Medicinal Product (IMP) designed to treat Drug Resistant Epilepsy.

Mr Lynch from Children’s University Hospital Temple Street said: “I can speak for my colleagues [to say] that we would not be prescribing CannEpil because that has a significant THC component and there is no evidence base for such a product to be effective for children and adults with epilepsy.”

He added clinicians like himself want a medical cannabis product that is “reliable and properly formulated” as soon as possible – CannEpil, he thinks, doesn’t meet this standard for epilepsy patients.

However, he said, Epidiolex, a CBD-based medicine would solve the problem.

As the Irish Times reports, Shaun Flanagan, the assistant national director of the HSE’s Primary Care Eligibility and Reimbursement Service (PCERS), told the committee that CannEpil will be the only cannabis-based product on offer.

He added, though, that another oral medicine, Tilray, could enter the Irish medical cannabis market soon.

A few weeks ago, Canex reported that as part of the Medicinal Cannabis Access Programme (MCAP), MGC Pharma’s cannabis-derived epilepsy IMP, CannEpil, will be fully covered by the HSE in Ireland later this year.

Then, Roby Zomer, Co‐founder and Managing Director of MGC Pharma, said: “This is a key moment for MGC Pharma and for the Irish patients who can now receive cannabis‐based treatments covered by the National Health Insurance.

“Furthermore, this is a critical moment in the roll out of CannEpil both in Ireland and worldwide.

“Our goal is to improve the lives of people who suffer from Refractory Epilepsy and other indications, and by making CannEpil available free to access for patients in Ireland, this will now be the case.

“Combined with record monthly sales in May for our leading phytocannabinoid derived medicines, the company continues to deliver on its goal of building a strong and sustainable global bio‐pharma business.

“With further Clinical Trials of CannEpil underway, we hope to be able to increase the supply and availability of the medicine in the most affordable way to epilepsy sufferers globally in the near future.”

Ireland’s medical cannabis programme is expected to be similar to that of the UK.

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